This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily on November 6, 2017
KUALA LUMPUR: EP Plus Group Sdn Bhd, a healthcare marketing and sales company, mulls listing on Bursa Malaysia in five years to finance its ongoing expansion plan in Malaysia and the region, its founder and group managing director Pang Tse-Ming said.
“Floating on the stock market is always one of the options for us to raise funds, and with the completion of our five-year business plan we will gauge how aggressively we want to grow the business, and from there we will decide where to source the funds,” he told The Edge Financial Daily in a recent interview.
“So, floating the company definitely is one of the options we are going to consider for funding, but we will make the decision upon the completion of our plan, which will be at the end of 2022,” he added.
EP Plus is focused on introducing brands from small and medium enterprises to family-owned companies, and helping them market these products. Today the company is concentrated in three main segments which are pharmaceuticals, assisted reproductive technology (ART) and medical aesthetics.
Pharmaceuticals are at present the group’s bread and butter, contributing about 75% of its revenue, while medical aesthetics contributes 20% and ART 5%.
EP Plus has 15 principals or brand owners under its stable, in which the group helps market their products. Thirteen of its principals are European companies — from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden, with one company from the US and another from South Korea.
“We have a network of 8,000 healthcare professionals comprising doctors, pharmacists, nurses and embryologists in which we reach out to promote the products of our principals,” said Pang.
Private hospitals make up 30% of the group’s target market, with the remainder being clinics (30%), pharmacies (30%) and government and teaching hospitals (10%).
The group has built eight niche European brands for its principals into market leaders, which include Tanakan, Neuroaid and Dysport which are used in the field of neurology, Smecta which is used for gastroenterology, Fluimucil for respiratory purposes, Vitrolife which is used for ART, as well as Teosyal and Silhoutte for medical aesthetics purposes.
Pang shared that the group has an internal target of launching three new brands per year for its principals.
“We need a constant supply of new products to fuel the growth of the company; for this year we have already achieved our target with the launch of three new brands, which are MeteoSpasmyl which is used for irritable bowel syndrome, Euphon which is for sore throat and Spedifen which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug,” said Pang.
Aside from product expansion, the group is also looking to widen its geographical presence, which at present is in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
“We ventured into Singapore about six years ago while this is the second year we are in Indonesia. In Malaysia and Singapore our [modus operandi] is to grow the brands of our customers from zero to millions to commercialise them; in Indonesia we took a bolder approach; we have acquired a small business in Indonesia which has its own range of medical aesthetics products.
“At present our revenue contribution from Malaysia is around 75%, Singapore 11% and Indonesia 14%,” he said.
Part of the group’s five-year plan is to gain a foothold in other regional markets such as Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Pang shared that the group has acquired 15,000 sq ft office space which is next to its present 12,000 sq ft office in Mont Kiara here.
“This is part of our regional expansion, in which [the expanded office] will serve as headquarters for our Southeast Asia operations in the future,” he said.
As for its financials, the group achieved sales of RM55 million last year.
“This year, we aim to achieve a 32% growth in sales to RM73 million, and I am very confident looking at our sales level as of October that we are above target,” he said.
Pang did not share the group’s bottom line figure, but said it is profitable.
“It has been a profitable business since day one, and this has allowed us to expand the business over these past 20 years,” he said.
On the consumer sentiment in the healthcare and pharmaceutical segment, Pang opined that things have been improving.
“This year, we see more positive feedback from retailers. Consumer spending is coming back as people have adjusted to the goods and services tax,” he said.